City Announces Proposal for Lake Shore Drive Improvements

Illinois and Chicago officials are looking into ways to improve the city's 80-year-old lakeside highway.

Lake Shore Drive has undergone several extensions and pedestrian access projects, but planners have struggled over the years to create a balance between keeping traffic flowing and preserving the city's parkland, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Jeff Sriver, director of transportation planning and programming for the city's Department of Transportation, said the city's biggest issue is that there's a variety of activity near the highway.

"It's not just a road or a highway," he said. "As many transit passengers take it as take CTA rail lines, with 70,000 riders using the corridor on buses. It's also the Lakefront Trail. Then, there's all the park activity. It's much more complex and interesting than your standard road project."

Officials revealed their plans for the most significant redevelopment in decades at a public meeting Wednesday. The plans include shifting beaches, adding parkland and further separating bike and pedestrian lanes.

"The extension of the park and seawall into the lake is needed to protect Lake Shore Drive from flooding, so waves will never overtop it and get into it like they do today," Sriver said. "As a happy coincidence we can use all this space as park."

Reserving lanes for buses, high-occupancy vehicles or express toll lanes is also being considered.

Officials hope the fixes can alleviate the most congested and crash-prone areas of the highway.

State and local transportation officials said discussions for costs and funding haven't started yet.

The projects along the scenic highway wouldn't begin until 2019 at the earliest.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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